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Town of Vail to weigh plastic-bag ban at Oct. 21 meeting

October 17, 2014, 9:07 am

The Vail Town Council will determine the level of interest in considering an ordinance that would ban the use of plastic bags at Vail’s two grocery stores at its evening meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The discussion is listed fifth on the meeting agenda which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers with opportunities for public comment.

town of vail logoThe topic of a plastic-bag ban was first identified in 2009 with Town Council adoption of the Town of Vail Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan and the Colorado Association of Ski Towns Reusable Bag Challenge. The Environmental Strategic Plan commits the town to reducing waste, reducing energy and carbon emissions, and ensuring that the natural environment, specifically air and water quality are improved, and that public education is increased. Included in the plan are goals to reduce waste by 25 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

To date, the plan has served as a catalyst for numerous initiatives, including the town’s energy conservation and renewable energy projects, fuel reductions, public education, water quality, green events and the community wide recycling ordinance which became effective on July 1.

A white paper was prepared in 2013 by the town’s environmental sustainability staff that included an analysis of the consumption reduction benefits of a ban on plastic bags in Vail. As a follow up, the Town Council directed staff to seek community feedback on the plastic bag issue as a whole and to gauge public opinion on it and other strategies to reduce consumption. Since then, several surveys have been fielded showing the general pulse of the community. The collective results show a mix of mostly favorable and some less favorable or neutral support.

During Tuesday’s discussion, Kristen Bertuglia, the town’s environmental sustainability manager, will provide an update on the past information-gathering efforts and a comparison of bag policies in other communities which include bans in Aspen, Carbondale, Breckenridge and Telluride. She’ll also present a recommendation to consider passage of an ordinance that would address a reduction in the use of disposable bags incrementally in Vail. The draft ordinance proposes to ban the use of plastic bags at Vail’s two grocery stores in West Vail and add a ten-cent fee for the use of paper bags at the two stores. Most of the revenue collected from the bag fee would be used for environmental education and waste reduction programs by the town with a smaller portion of the fee to be retained by the grocery stores for administration purposes.

The white paper from 2013 and other staff research documents along with the draft plastic bag ordinance are accessible on the town’s website at vailgov.com. To comment in advance of the meeting, email the Vail Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com. Should the Town Council direct staff to add the ordnance to a future meeting agenda, additional opportunities for public comment would be available upon two readings of the ordinance. For more information, contact Bertuglia at 970-477-3455 or email kbertuglia@vailgov.com.

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